Friday, 9 September 2016
Venezia 73: Far from home on day 9
The Woman Who Left [Ang Babaeng Humayo]
dir-scr Lav Diaz; with Charo Santos, John Lloyd Cruz 16/Ph ****.
At nearly four hours long, you'd think this Filipino epic would try the patience. But you'd be wrong. This is a riveting odyssey that tells a straightforward story of revenge and redemption with strong echoes of life anywhere on earth. It may feel a bit like binge-watching an entire miniseries, but Lav Diaz's filmmaking is worth experiencing on a big screen, as he shoots in a style that's deceptively rough and old-fashioned, but is packed with skill, wit and some big surprises.
dir Rebecca Zlotowski; with Natalie Portman, Lily-Rose Depp 16/Fr **
A baffling story set just before WWII broke out, this lavishly produced film looks great, and has a lovely central performance by Natalie Portman. Alas, the plot simply never comes into focus, veering all over the place, complicated by flashbacks, framing scenes, dreams and visions, plus a film-within-a-film motif. but none of this resolves itself into anything terribly coherent.
On the Milky Road
dir-scr Emir Kusturica; with Monica Bellucci, Emir Kusturica 16/Ser ***
Veteran Serbian filmmaker Emir Kusturica is back with another lively, cacophonous romp through his nation's history, this time centring on the 1990s war. The film's first half is a joyous depiction of the experiences of a rather wacky group of characters, including several animals. Then the film takes a hard swerve into violence and fantasy that may gel for Serbian viewers, but leaves everyone else in the dark.
These Days [Questi giorni]
dir Giuseppe Piccioni; with Maria Roveran, Marta Gastini 16/It **
It's not easy to work out what this Italian comedy-drama is all about. It's a road movie that neglects to show us the journey, following a group of lively characters who never do or say anything amusing. Romances are thin and unfocussed, and the plot itself is only a hint. There are some intriguing ideas swirling around, but over two long hours filmmaker Giuseppe Piccioni never quite finds anything to make the movie either meaningful or entertaining.
Only a few films to go now, including Denzel Washington in The Magnificent Seven, Mathieu Amalric in Never Ever and the Aussie drama Boys in the Trees.